Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Monday, December 22, 2003

2 of 3 Top Supreme Court Cases in 2003 Have Employment Implications

At least if you agree with a survey of Top Legal Developments which comes from the good folks at West Publishing. The press release which highlights the Desert Palace v. Costa and Green Tree v. Bazzle decisions can be found on the Yahoo news site. My first posting (with cite to the decisions) on each of the cases can be found here and here.

Green Tree is not strictly an employment law case, but did hold that it was up to arbitrators to decide whether or not class actions were permitted under arbitration agreements if the agreements themselves do not say otherwise. West reads the decisions more broadly finding it allows employers to force class action lawsuits into arbitration.

According to Professor Rick Rossein it has "huge implications for the arbitration of employments disputes, particularly statutory discrimination claims." I am not quite sure what he means by that, as I doubt many employers are going to opt to have their arbitration agreements permit class action claims, unless forced to do so by the courts as a condition of having their agreement enforced. A quick google search didn't find the statement to place it in context, so we will just have to for further illumination on what the 'huge implications' are.

It is the potential practical effect of Desert Palace v. Costa, particularly raising the summary judgment bar, which earns it a spot. Those consequences aren't yet, and may never, play out, but the change in litigation if they do are of great importance to employers and their counsel.


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